Chance came to us as a very sick little boy, only about a year old and missing 90 percent of his hair. Chance was rescued from starvation when he was about 6 months old and had never been able to really thrive. The vets said that due to his weak immune system he was unable to fight off environmental risks, as would a healthy horse. He began to lose his hair in late winter, and it quickly began coming out in handfuls. In January, Horse Helpers paid a vet to go to his owner’s home and she put him on antibiotics and told the owner to move him to a different pasture.
He started doing better but they were unable to move him so he remained in a very wet environment. He was in a pasture virtually naked with no coat until a Good Samaritan lent the owner a sheet. In March, Chance started going downhill again. The problem became too big for his rescuer to handle and so she surrendered Chance to us.
After Chance was with us for about three weeks, he stopped losing hair and began to put on weight. The swelling in his back legs went down, as did the pain. Every day he received medicated baths, he went on daily walks where he kicked and bucked because he feels better. Chance received all kinds of things to boost his immunity–probiotics, aloe, iron, alfalfa and a youth feed. Our Healing Touch practitioner, Peggy Setzer, worked on him twice a week and the vets were on top of his other healthcare needs.
Chance’s hooves were too long and one hoof was twisting out and had thrown his back leg into an unnatural position. The farrier started working on his hooves and he began to learn how to walk again. It took three years and traditional vetting, acupuncture, good nutrition and lots of special care to finally get Chance’s skin under control. He has turned into a gorgeous athletic fast little bay, like a miniature thoroughbred, and best of all, the woman who called and reported Chance to us is the person who adopted him. An avid and exceptional rider, Celia Jane came full circle and from saving an almost dead baby horse to adopting a ready to go, under saddle little sport horse. They were meant to be!
Chief might have been the perfect horse. Rescued from a junkyard along with three other horses, they were all thin, wormy and full of lice. Chief let the public know that he and his buddies were in need because he kept escaping. If he hadn’t, no one would have ever noticed them.
It was initially thought Chief would only ever be used for light riding, but with slow, thoughtful rehabilitation paired with careful conditioning he came back stronger than ever. Fast forward two years and he and his new mom, Morgan, were taking dressage and jumping lessons with an eye to eventing competition—and loving every minute of it. “He is a wonderful horse and I have Horse Helpers to thank for saving this sweet boy and bringing him into my life.”
Sadly, Chief acquired EPM and his Mom managed his disease with every care she could give him. He was everyone’s favorite horse. In 2017, almost nine years after we first rescued him, Chief could no longer fight against the disease and his Mom lovingly released him from his pain, crossing the Rainbow Bridge. We will never forget Chief, he is one of those horses that touches everyone he came in contact with. We are just so grateful that his last ten years were filled with loving and caring people who listened to him and paid attention to what he said. He got everything he needed and more. Our only regret was that his entire life wasn’t filled with that kind of love. Thank you, Morgan.
Domino was a large white and black leopard appaloosa who was one of the most starved and malnourished horses we have ever brought to the farm. You literally could rest a glass on his rib cage he was so caved in from a lack of food. His main organs were shutting down and he ran into walls and had no coordination. Along with being extremely underweight, Domino was covered in rain rot that left his fur patchy and his skin in constant pain, he had lice and he was unable to urinate properly and no one in his life cared at all.
As soon as Domino began a regular eating schedule he sprang to life and began showing his curiosity for everything and everyone. He got regular medicated baths, his urinary tract infection was treated and he blossomed. One day, a family called in hopes of adopting Domino for their 3 year old daughter who had fallen in love with him. It was a great match and Domino went to a loving home where he was ridden and given the proper love and care he always deserved. He was in his 20s when he went to his new family and he lived a happy full life until winter 2017, when he reached his thirties and breathed his last breath knowing he had been loved. He deserved that love and we will always be grateful for all the care he received in his golden years.
Gracie came to the farm as part of a hoarding case out of Person County, NC. The US Humane Society stepped in and working with the county’s animal control and local rescues seized over 100 animals from the home, 40 of them horses. In an effort to minimize the financial impact on local rescues, the horses were distributed to willing rescues in North Carolina and Virginia. We took three, including Grace.
Grace was an adorable little chestnut and white mini with a silvery mane and tail. She was so friendly we allowed Grace to wander the property while volunteers were cleaning the barn. She made us all laugh. We had a visitor one day with a severe chronic illness. She had been a horse show judge and a breeder but was now too sick to have horses and she was bereft without them. She fell in love with Grace and stayed for hours just hanging out with her. A few months later she made application to adopt Grace and on the day they picked her up Grace stepped up into their minivan and away they went. Gracie is now her Mom’s service pony. She lives in the house and backyard and goes everywhere with her Mom. Gracie’s heart was just so big and she has filled her Mom’s and saved her.
Little Rascal is a mini-mule who came to us through our hay man. He bought him from someone in another county but didn’t realize just how emotionally damaged he was. While he wasn’t in physically bad condition, he was completely unsocialized and was unwilling at first to be around us. After months of work Little Rascal warmed up to us and slowly allowed us to brush, pet and love on him. A farm visitor fell in love with him and off he went to spend his life as a best friend with her horse. We will never forget the hurdles Little Rascal required of us to gain his trust and how worth all the work was. He was just coolest little mule we ever met.
Matilda is a Molly Mule that we found abandoned in Watauga County alongside four other horses. When Matilda first arrived she was sweet and shy but it was evident that she had not received consistent handling or training. Mules, if you don’t know, are nothing like horses. They are not going to do anything because you tell them to, you have to give them a good reason. They think for themselves and you have to earn their trust but once you have it, you have it for a lifetime.
Matilda was a tough nut to crack and we finally sent her to our trainer who has been the World Trail Riding Mule Champion more than once. We figured if anyone could crack through that veneer of mistrust, he could. And he did. Thanks to Jim, Matilda’s soulful picture on the web page caught the eye of a lifelong hunter jumper show rider, a woman with a life in highly trained and valuable horses. She fell in love with a mule.
On Matilda’s arrival at her new home she made friends with her new pasture mate a fancy, prancy warmblood. A saddle fitter came out and had her saddle refitted to fit Matilda perfectly and she got her own fitted bridle. Now Matilda goes for trail rides with all the fancy prancy warmbloods in her neighborhood and they all love her. Who would have thought a local plow mule would end up living the high life!
This is Frosty, if you look closely perhaps you can see his ears are really small; that’s because on the day he was born his owner let his ears freeze off. His first day in the world was filled with pain and we aren’t sure it ever got better. When the sheriff called us to pick up Frosty and his companions, he was 20 years old. The three horses were tethered on metal line like dogs on chains in a man’s backyard. Attached to stakes in the ground these sad horses had lice, painful sores, and were severely malnourished.
Frosty was the thinnest and sickest… and the angriest. He did not want to be touched at all because he was in pain everywhere. And when he wasn’t in pain, he expected pain; he was always on guard, ready to bite or kick to keep us from brushing or touching him. He dreaded all human interaction. By Christmas, though, he began to take a few risks, he asked for attention and didn’t pin his ears, the biting stopped and he rarely kicked!
A real turning point occurred when he was able to run in beautiful flat large pasture to gain muscle. On a cold, cold day we went out to put a blanket on him ready for his ritual fussing about being touched on his back legs. It was so cold his whiskers were icicles; but instead he nuzzled us and stood patiently as we blanketed him. Frosty was ready for adoption after two years of rehab.
It takes a long time for truly compromised horses to recover. Spring 2016 we entered Frosty in ASU’s Open Show and he ended up in 7 classes, two of them including small jumps! He won 4 blue ribbons and placed in every class. He was the star of the show and he knew it. Frosty, our angry 20 year old pony was now 22 years young and ready to take on the world. He was happy, trusting, and healthy. He is now adopted to an equine massage school in Raleigh. He teaches massage students how to give equine massage. We all miss him; he just made you smile with his little teddy bear ears. Now he has the life he deserves, with no more pain and lots of love.
Misty was an amazing and high-spirited Appendix mare who was bought off a slaughter truck. She was first adopted by a young girl in order to be used for low-level show jumping. Unfortunately, a few months after her adoption Misty was injured in her pasture and came back to Horse Helpers. The injury was very serious, one vet said to put her down, another said he could stabilize her until we could transport her to a hospital. Misty fought her way off that slaughter truck and we believed she’d fight her way through this too, so we stabilized her and transported her to our vet hospital in Johnson City. The wound had severed ligaments, punctured down to the bone and left her back leg looking unsightly. They did the best they could to restitch what was left and kept her for a week before we could bring her home.
She spent a year on stall rest with daily rewrapping of the wound, leg stretches, hydrotherapy and handwalking. After a year she was allowed a small turn out area and then her space was slowly increased as she built her muscle back up. Two years after her injury Misty was running in the pasture and being ridden lightly. She was a mare with nine lives and continued to defy all odds even to the point of finding herself the perfect home.
Misty was adopted to be a friend to an older thoroughbred and for light riding, but this wasn’t just any home. It was the home of a daughter and mother who worked in animal rescue and a husband who had spent his life as a professional horse trainer and teacher. Anything Misty needs they know and she gets it. She is a miracle horse and she found her miracle home.
Violet is a white miniature that we rescued in the spring of 2017. When she arrived, she was so thin and crippled that we had to carry her off the trailer in a sling. Her hooves had grown so long that she could barely walk, the front hooves were almost curled up into her leg and her rear hooves had forced her to splay her back legs out, completely distorting her movement and boney processes.
She had given up and laid down in the pasture and eaten grass in a circle around her and was waiting to die. She was so sick in so many ways it didn’t seem there would be anything we could do to ease her suffering and we began to consider the idea of euthanasia. Over the coming days, Violet showed her spirit and it was clear she was a fighter. Our farrier worked hard on correcting her hooves and her journey towards healing began.
The vet first saw her and gave me a look like you are crazy to keep her alive, he went on and worked on a couple other horses we had brought to the vet and went back to her stall and she had moved around, eaten, had something to drink. His look changed, he was on board too!!
While we were working on her rehab her story caught the eye of a couple with a farm full of special needs animals. Her future Mom started coming to the farm every day to work with her and lo and behold Violet converted her too! All these experts and laypeople were sucked in by her heart and fight. Violet’s friend became Violet’s Mom and she and Violet’s new Dad have been dedicated to her continuous care at their farm ever since. She now lives in a stall with her own chandelier, wears build-a-bear shoes, and a crown. What more could she want?